Home Features Laurel and Hardy on location: Surprise

Laurel and Hardy on location: Surprise

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 The Bottle & Glass Inn, transposed from the Midlands to the North East to accommodate Stan & Ollie on their visit to Newcastle. No wonder they weren The Bottle & Glass Inn, transposed from the Midlands to the North East to accommodate Stan & Ollie on their visit to Newcastle. No wonder they weren’t impressed. (Image Ricoh GR)

The story of Stan Laurel and Oliver Hardy’s last tour — in England as it happens — provided a great couple of hours’ entertainment. I strongly recommend Stan & Ollie to anyone who remembers Laurel and Hardy from their youth. Or to anyone who has never heard of them, for that matter. It’s good to watch.. 

Steve Coogan as Stan Laurel and John C.Reilly as Oliver Hardy were outstanding. By the end of the film they were Laurel and Hardy to my eyes. It was something of a disappointment later when I fired up YouTube and watched an original short film. The real characters looked rather alien.

But the purpose of this article is not to review Stan & Ollie, rather it is to comment on location photography. Finding the right places for an early 1950s film isn’t easy. But when I saw the rather unlikely hotel supposedly occupied by the comedy duo in Newcastle-on-Tyne, I had a clear recollection of the building. But where had I seen it? The viaduct in the background, a hallmark of Newcastle, was a distraction until I realised it had been added in post processing.

 Look out for this parade of period shops if you visit Stan & Laurel — another film location at the Black Country Museum (Image Ricoh GR) Look out for this parade of period shops if you visit Stan & Laurel — another film location at the Black Country Museum (Image Ricoh GR)

After pondering for a time it came back to me. This was the Bottle & Glass Inn from the Black Country Museum. I had paid a visit in 2015 with my then-current fave-rave, the Ricoh GR. I covered it in this article in April 2015. Several more of the street scenes in Stan & Ollie were also filmed at the Black Country Museum, an excellent example of the living museum concept. It’s definitely worth a visit if you are in the Midlands.

9 COMMENTS

  1. I saw the trailer to this when I took Liz to see something else, it did look interesting, and I do recall Laurel and Hardy films that still ran in the seventies when I was young’un. I will probably pick it up when it appears available to watch in the comfort of my own living room.

  2. Yup, we went to see ‘Stan & Ollie’ the other day: I saw that it had been chosen to finish the London Film Festival a few months ago, and a friend – who works with actors’ movement in films (..she looks after James Bond and others..) – said that John C. Reilly had been staying in a houseboat on the Thames near here for the duration of the shoot, and he’d walked past here in Richmond, admiring the view..

    ..where was I? It starts a bit abruptly, and there’s no “lead in”, showing younger filmgoers – who may not have known Stan and Ollie – why they were so famous.

    So there’s a bit of a lack of empathy at the beginning, and we only gradually get to feel for them, and Stan’s abortive aim to shoot a film in England under their own control, rather than just being employees of Hal Roach.

    [When Stan walks the streets of London to get to a putative film-maker’s office, did that suddenly jump to Liverpool and the Adelphi hotel?]

    Some of the dialogue was – to my ears – a bit garbled: ‘Bernard Delfont’ and Ollie’s wife, for instance. (I doubt that Delfont was that much of a fast-talking, ingratiating smarm, as he was, of course, the loud and bossy Lew Grade’s brother!)

    It’s a charming film, and John C. Reilly, and his make-up team, really should have been in the running for Oscar nominations, as his – no, both of their – performance(s) were so beautifully nuanced: he and Steve Coogan must have watched hours of ‘the boys’ to get those gestures just so right.

    Somewhere I have a couple of VHS tapes of Stan’s and Ollie’s tour of the UK, on which this story’s based ..and there’s a beautiful moment when Stan’s gone to visit his father in Ulverston, ooop North (where he was born), and he kisses his dad at the garden gate.

    Really, such unpretentious men, and a charming movie.

    • David B.
  3. Without a doubt two legends of the silver screen and watching this brought back memories of watching them on TV when I was a kid , and Coogan and Reilly were great and captured them to a tee.

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